Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Tea is like eating silver."

The Good EarthThe Good Earth Poster

The old man continued to cough perseveringly and would not cease until the water boiled. Wang Lung dipped some into a bowl, and then, after a moment, he opened a glazed jar that stood upon a ledge of the stove and took from it a dozen or so of the curled dried leaves and sprinkled them upon the surface of the water. The old man's eyes opened greedily and immediately he began to complain.

"Why are you wasteful? Tea is like eating silver."

"It is the day," replied Wang Lung with a short laugh. "Eat and be comforted."

The old man grasped the bowl in his shriveled, knotty fingers, muttering, uttering little grunts. He watched the leaves uncurl and spread upon the surface of the water, unable to bear drinking the precious stuff.

"It will be cold," said Wang Lung.

"True -- true -- " said the old man in alarm, and he began to take great gulps of the hot tea. He passed into an animal satisfaction, like a child fixed upon its feeding. But he was not too forgetful to see Wang Lung dipping the water recklessly from the cauldron into a deep wooden tub. He lifted his head and stared at his son.

Buck, Pearl S., The Good Earth, Chapter 1, Washington Square Press, 1931


Tess Grey said...

Well, I'll be darned. I've read almost all of Buck's books, as they're sort of part of the almost-required canon for liberal arts lit students, but I never knew that this was made into a movie. Have you seen it? Is it any good? I'll have to check the video store and try to assuage my movie ignorance...

~ Phyll said...

I've only seen snippets of the movie, Tess, so I can't comment if it's good or not. But I rarely see a movie as satisfying as its book, except maybe Peter Jackon's The Lord of The Rings.

speakfreely said...

Ha! Good to hear this quoted, as I have often, many times these days thought of the old man's quote "Tea is like silver" while dropping way too much money on sheng pu-erh....He was the kind of miser that only true starvation can breed...